Girls at a local public high school were suspended last spring for twerking in a video. None had ever been punished for vastly more provocative moves at school dances with chaperones standing idly by. MTV: 1, Teaching Moments: 0 for that school.
I saw that, like many schools around the country, Mount Vernon Presbyterian in Atlanta had TV monitors placed around the school on Wednesday showing loops of “I Have a Dream” and the anniversary on the national mall. Teaching Moments: 1; Ignorance and Intolerance: 0 for all those schools.
These scores are more meaningful in the lives of our children than how well any of them did on a test this week, and if not, they should be. We get these kids for thousands of hours. We should not censure the demeaning and distasteful, but we sure as heck can amplify for them what is great, and challenge them, not once in a while, but every period of every day, to learn for themselves how to distinguish the two. Is your school mining and amplifying great teaching moments? Does your leadership team look for this in their own practices? Does your school community percolate with these moments? Do you frequently reach beyond the real and virtual walls of subject, time, and space to weave the world into the moments you share with your students?